Keeping ScienceWriters2015 Accessible: Information for Attendees with Disabilities

We’re working hard to make sure that everyone who attends ScienceWriters2015 is able to enjoy the full conference experience. In this post, I want to share some key information for wheelchair users and other attendees with disabilities. Because the conference and the related tours, events, and parties will be spread across so many locations, there are a lot of details to know about.

First off, a request: If you have any questions or inquiries regarding accessibility, please reach out to me directly at wroush@mit.edu. The earlier we’re aware of your plans, the more time we’ll have to make sure everything is ready for you. For example, if you use a wheelchair and you will be joining one of our tours to Boston University, Harvard, or Woods Hole, let us know, so that we can make sure there’s wheelchair-accessible bus ready to get you there.

The buildings we’ll be using at MIT are fully accessible, and a shuttle will be available to transport you to the campus from the Hyatt Regency Cambridge. We’re also communicating with the hosts of all of our special field trips and tours to make sure we know in advance about any access limitations at their sites. So far, everything is looking rosy.

For more information, read on.

Accessibility at the Hyatt Regency Cambridge

ADA-compliant rooms are available as part of the block of conference-rate rooms at the Hyatt Regency Cambridge, the official conference hotel. The Hyatt’s full rundown of services for guests with disabilities is here.

Accessibility at MIT

MIT’s Student Disabilities Services office maintains a set of Web pages on accessible routes around campus. The site includes an excellent MIT Campus Accessibility Map showing the exact locations of all accessible ramps, doors, elevators, and restrooms on campus.

Here are some tips specific to the venues we'll be using during ScienceWriters2015:

At Walker Memorial, the site of our October 9 evening welcome reception, the accessible ramp and lift are located on the building’s west side, to the left of the main entrance stairs on Memorial Drive.

At Kresge Auditorium, the main conference site during the New Horizons in Science sessions on October 11 and 12, both front entrances are wheelchair-accessible. Restrooms are in the basement, accessible via elevator.

In the Stratton Student Center, the site of some concurrent New Horizons sessions as well as most of our Lunch With a Luminary talks on October 11 and 12, accessible ramps and entrances are located on the building’s south side, facing Kresge Auditorium. Meeting rooms on the second and third floors are reachable via elevators at the center of the building.

A few Lunch With a Luminary sessions will be held on the 2nd floor of MIT’s Building 4, which is a short distance across campus from Kresge and the Student Center. Wheelchair users can enter the central campus complex via the accessible ramp to the left of the Building 7 main stairs at 77 Massachusetts Ave., then follow the signs to the elevator to reach the 2nd floor. A guide will be available.

Accessibility at Harvard

Conference attendees have two chances to visit Harvard, as part of the Monday Oct. 12 tour of the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Oct. 13 tour of the Harvard Museums of Science and Culture. Both destinations are wheelchair-accessible. For more information, check out Harvard’s University Disability Services page. 

Accessibility in Boston and Cambridge

The Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau has a very good page on accessibility at Logan Airport, on the MBTA subway lines and buses, and at various attractions around the city.

The City of Cambridge operates a system of wheelchair-accessible taxicabs, which can be ordered at 1-888-872-6721. For more information on accessibility in Cambridge, see the Cambridge Commission for Persons with Disabilities website.

Wade Roush

10 Museum Way, Cambridge, MA, 02141, United States

Science and technology journalist based in San Francisco.